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Mount Spokane

 

Many years ago, Francis H. Cook, pioneer Spokane newspaper editor, acquired land on the summit of the mountain, built a cabin there, and began a campaign to have the area set aside as a recreational center. For a long time the only way to reach the summit was by trail; then a poor road was built; as of 1941 the construction of a good road with an easy grade brought the park within an hour’s drive from Spokane.

From the lower pine-covered slopes the road winds upward, skirting the great ledges of weather-stained granite that jut out from the mountain side. Many species of wildflowers grow profusely on the forest floor, and in the open spaces are clumps of mountain ash, heavily loaded with scarlet berries in summer and early fall. The slopes are often carpeted with Indian bear grass, its great white tufts like ice cream cones on two-foot stalks.

The bare summit on the mountain is a mass of light gray granite flecked with mica. On bright, clear days the granite appears almost white and the mica flashes in the sunlight. It is not surprising that the local Indians came to associate the mountain with the supernatural; and the Spokane (Ind. Spehkunne, “sun people”) apparently felt that they had a particularly close spiritual association with the sun.

This 24,240-acre park includes Mt. Spokane and Mt. Kit Carson. In recent years Mount Spokane has become a popular skiing center. Easily accessible from Spokane and other population centers in eastern Washington, the snow-covered slopes attract hundreds of skiers every week-end during the winter months. Ski tournaments are held here by the Spokane Ski Club.

Recreation options are plentiful, including picnicking, hiking, horseback riding, viewing, camping, sledding, and snowmobiling.

Images

Ca. 1935 image of skiers at Mt. Spokane State Park.

Source: Washington State Digital Archives

1936 image of Vista House, Mt. Spokane State Park.

Source: Washington State Digital Archives

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Mount Spokane Summit

On the summit of the mountain, a lookout point offers a sweeping view of the Inland Empire. Here is a burnished-copper sun ball, four feet in diameter, mounted on a pedestal of native stone and concrete; on a clear day, it reflects the sun like a beacon. The ball was the gift of Spokane club women.

Vista House

Vista House, built in 1934, is a stone warming hut at the summit for skiers and other visitors. It offers spectacular views of the surrounding areas, including the beautiful Selkirk Mountains to the northeast. On weekends and holidays during the winter months the Vista House serves food and hot beverages.

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